Big Sur Writer’s 2013, Or Why Not to Drink Wine on an Empty Stomach: You’re Dreams Might Come True and People Won’t Be Able to Tell if You’re Drunk or Just Really Happy

So I’ve been gone for a while, and I have a wonderfully written post summing up November that I will post in the next few days – breathe easy, dear reader (AKA Mom).

But that has to wait for now, because OMG I have news.

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Though it might turn out to be nothing. Or something. But probably nothing.

…but maybe something.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Two weekends ago, I went to the Big Sur Writer’s Workshop. It’s hosted by the Henry Miller Library and the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

One of the top ten weekends of my life, not even kidding.

Let me just say? Not to be cynical, but I’m pretty used to things not turning out the way I want them to. I don’t know if that says more about me or the things I tend to sign up for, but there it is. I’m used to getting involved with something, being thooper jazzed about it for anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of months, and then arriving at the time/place only to realize it’s not what I really wanted.

I was totally prepared to have this same thing happen at Big Sur. I’d built it up in my mind, and even though Jill and Hilary were going, too – I wasn’t sure it could live up to my expectations. So when I pulled up to the Lodge last week and saw all the people checking in, my stomach clenched and I got this “what am I doing” feeling. I didn’t want to face the reality of what I’d been dreaming of for months.

But let me tell you. I don’t know if it was the trees, or the rain, or the people, or the gorgeous lodge, or the small workshop groups, or the wonderful faculty, or…

Maybe it was a combination of all those things. Anyway. The point. I’m getting there. But first I have to tell you a little story.

When I was younger, I was a gymnast. Not a great gymnast or anything, but I loved gymnastics. I loved it more than I’d ever loved any other hobby. The chalk, the leotards, the blood/sweat/tears – I couldn’t get enough of it.

But I really wasn’t all that good. I could tumble a mean pass and do a kip-up (which took MONTHS to learn, btw – and is totally the part of the bar routine in the summer Olympics where you’re like – ‘That doesn’t seem that hard’. It is).

Other than that? I was average at best. Which SUCKED, because I would have given anything to be one of the girls that were at home in the gym. They belonged there. The coaches ‘saw something’ in them. They were goin’ places, etc. etc.

It felt like swimming upstream, constantly. Like when you’re trapped in a conversation with peoplethat don’t get your jokes. Or trying to do a workout on no sleep. It just wasn’t working.

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Eventually, working against the current wore me out and I retired (the drama queen’s way of saying ‘I quit’) at the ripe old age of 15 ½.

I was trying to be good at something that I was not good at, and it broke my heart.

I’ve always kind of worried that maybe all my passions would turn up like that.

Big Sur didn’t feel that way at all. It felt natural, like I was slipping in to my element.

Everything about it was great. Especially Friday night.

When we got there, we realized there was neither cell reception nor wireless. And we were like

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But turns out I didn’t die. Weird.

So after the first critique session, I was hanging out at dinner with Jill and Hilary (FAC FTW!) when I saw Ross standing in the corner of my eye.  He had internet access in our inn down the road and came to give me some unbelievable news. An amazing agent that I’d queried a few nights prior in an ill-advised bout of over-confidence had responded and requested the entire manuscript.

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At which point everything went fuzzy, and I fully realized that it was not wise to be so excited when you have no food in your stomach and have casually sipped wine for the past fifteen minutes. Exhaustion, hunger, a smidge of alcohol and delirium overtook me, and I freaked out. I hope I looked like this:

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But I’m more than certain I looked like this:

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Now guys. I know that this agent will probably read the manuscript and tell me ‘no’. That’s entirely possible. Probable. Entirely probable.

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But no one has asked for pages before! With the first novel, I got rejection after rejection after rejection – not even so much as a request for a synopsis. That’s a bit depressing. So there I was – first query out, one manuscript request. And even if nothing comes of it, I will chase that feeling.

That feeling of realizing that you might actually be good at what you’re passionate about. That the dreams you’ve thought about since you were fourteen might actually have grounding in reality.

Veronica Roth (one of my absolute favorites) has this blog post that I keep thinking about. She basically talks about how everyone plans for when things fall apart, but that she was starting to think that she should plan for if everything happened the way she wanted it to happen. What if everything turns out well? What if my dreams come true?

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Any aspiring author will tell you that simply having an agent request your manuscript is nothing. It’s the first step in dozens of steps before publication, and I know that.

But it’s Christmas time so I allow myself that moment every morning where I stop and think – today, my dreams could come true.

They totally could. I’ll keep you updated on this, because if I’m going to tell you the good stuff then I need to tell you the bad stuff, too. I’ll let you know when she passes, and I’ll let you know what kind of ice cream I decide to binge on when she does.

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But until then, I will be feverishly checking my email. I’m also prepping for a rejection by editing the manuscript in this in-between time with some helpful tips from another fantabulous, amazing (amazing quota reached, I shan’t say it again) agent that I met in Big Sur. Unfortunately, I’m catching some typos and then I’m like –

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And then I’m like, OMG, she read this mess –

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Then I pull myself together and do something else. Like change a diaper or watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. But I’m thinking about it. All the time.

My thought process goes something like –

She’s going to reject me.

But what if she doesn’t?


…but you are thinking like that.

I don’t have to admit it. * edits manuscript furiously, facepalms*

This is torture, guys.

Okay. No more angsty blogging. That’s that. I’m in Ohio with my wonderful family. It’s snowing, I’m sitting next to a wood-burning fire, and I do believe there is a glass of hot Grand Marnier in my future.

So I’m signing off.

Let me just check my email one more time…

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